PEERING into the tinted windows of the Belfield Hotel, hands cupped, for a minute I thought we had lost another of Sydney’s old pubs.
The bar was empty, deserted and tables and chairs upturned. There was no sign of life.
Disappointed, I was about to search for a nearby pub to quench my thirst on a scorching summer’s day in western Sydney, when I noticed a sign with red arrow – “Bar this way”.
While the original 1932 building was no longer trading, a much-later single storey addition to the rear of the Belfield Hotel, facing Punchbowl Road, has become the “new” pub, with a ‘pokie’ room, and ‘sports bar’.
After grabbing the attention of a disinterested barman with his head buried in a mobile phone, I was served a cold schooner of Carlton Draught (There’s no Reschs on tap).
Finding a stool, I glanced around to find three older blokes sitting separately in the bar-room, eyes glued to screens broadcasting horse racing, betting odds, and the cricket. It was a sad room. No merriment, no interaction.
Thankfully, though the beer was cold and tasty. My schooner knocked me back $6.
There was no atmosphere, character or attractiveness at all in this bar-room. Hopefully the front bars of the historic two-storey Belfield are closed in readiness for their renovations and rejuvenation. Hopefully there are no sinister plans to demolish the old lady – a pub that has traded at the corner of Punchbowl and Burwood Roads approaching 90 years, and which was licensed for business on March 14 1932.
I enjoyed my beer, cooled off, returned my empty glass to the bar, left the three men to their cricket, and horse racing screens, and returned to work.
Next time I visit the Belfield, I’m hoping the original corner pub is back in action, and that I don’t discover another ugly high rise residential tower in its place. Please, not again.
MAGICIAN CHANGES BARMAID TO SINGER
A magician turned a Sydney barmaid into a professional singer as easily as he can pull rabbits from a hat.
And he used sound business sense, not magic, to, do it. After hearing Miss Iris Jones sing at the Belfield Hotel, North Belmore, the magician engaged her to sing with his touring company.
The magician, “The Great Levant,” visited the hotel where Miss Jones worked, as she was singing in the dining-room.
GOING ON TOUR
Whenever she sang in the dining-room she attracted an audience of hotel customers. Theatrical agent Ted James said yesterday that Iris Jones would tour with Levant and his company for the rest of the year. He said that Iris, who was born in Sydney, had been trained at a convent and by a private teacher. She had spent two years in the New Hebrides singing in amateur shows for charity.
Mr. James said: “This girl will turn out to be an other Magda Neild”.
Her ultimate aim is to become a musical comedy star.
– Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Sunday 25 February 1951.